In many parts of the world, greetings on public transportation and announcements in other areas, like amusement parks, generally include the term “ladies and gentleman” to address all of those in the crowd. However, with the significant pushes in favor of LGBTQ rights during the last few years alone, this term has no longer seemed appropriate to those that don’t identify as either a lady or a gentleman or simply don’t like the arbitrary classifications.
In an effort to be in line with the latest language to represent all citizens and passengers, Transport for London (TfL) has announced that they will be scrapping their use of “ladies and gentleman” in their recorded greetings and will instead use the term “everyone.” The move comes shortly after London Mayor Sadiq Khan expressed concern during Mayor’s Question Time over the feeling of exclusion that the former recording evoked.
“I am keen that TfL addresses these concerns by speaking in a more neutral way when referring to gender,” Khan said. “TfL has made a commitment to transition from gender-specific phrases like ‘ladies and gentlemen’ which are currently used in announcements, to a gender-neutral alternative such as ‘good morning/good afternoon everyone.”
Staff that works onboard the subways have also been briefed in this change of language, and will be issued a reminder if well-meaning staff seem to be using “ladies and gentleman” too often. Campaigners and activists have been advocating for this change for quite some time, saying that the former term was “outdated” and “polite, but really belonging to yesterday.”
Mark Evers, director of customer strategy for TfL, heard campaigners loud and clear and said that the initiative aimed at helping passengers feel welcome and included.
“We have reviewed the language that we use in announcements and elsewhere and will make sure that it is fully inclusive, reflecting the great diversity of London,” Evers said.
LGBTQ group Stonewall approves of the step forward for people on all ends of the gay and trans spectrum, according to a spokesperson for the charity.
“Language is extremely important to the lesbian, gay, bi and trans community, and the way we use it can help ensure all people feel included,” they said. “We welcome gender neutral announcements to be rolled out across TfL, as it will ensure that everyone – no matter who they identify as – feels accounted for.”
Passengers welcome the change as well, likely because it doesn’t harm anyone but can help numerous people and children that are at odds with their identities. This message of inclusivity and acceptance may seem small, but other cities with major transportation systems are likely to follow suit.